Visiting other churches, talking to friends and family about churches and then coming home to our church has me thinking.
When I graduated from seminary a dozen years ago, I was quite discouraged - cynical, even? - about the state of the evangelical church. I've mellowed out some. After some conversations and thinking about what I've seen in the churches we've visited, I'm feeling discouraged again.
Let me slip in some exceptions to the discouraging picture here, lest I slip back into cynicism.
First, we have visited some excellent churches. We have been more careful before we go on holidays. Juanita does her homework so we don't have to get all worked up by the type of service we're likely to find by just dropping into a random evangelical church.
I've also been very encouraged with some of the movements that are building strength on the conservative side of the Evanglical world - Together for the Gospel, The Gospel Coalition, Nine Marks and some excellent, influential books and blogs. If these movements were strictly parachurch, they'd be no big deal but they are making a significant difference in local congregations.
However, it seems that most professing evangelical churches require radical reformation. What am I talking about? I'm just going to mention them now, but I'll do a post on each of the four issues that really stand out in the next few days:
- The general order of service / attitude of the usual worship service: Where is God?
- The way the Lord's Table is observed: Where is the fear of God?
- Music - the "me" songs, the ones that talk about me worshipping rather than about God and the gospel: Where is the worship of God?
- Preaching, or what passes for preaching: Where is the Word of God?
I don't doubt the sincerity of the church leadership in some of the services I've cringed through, but that's not the point. Do these pastors understand what it is to feed the sheep in their care?